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OPTIMIZATION AND STABILIZATION OF CROP - LIVESTOCK SILVIPASTORAL FARMING SYSTEM IN DRY LAND AREAS OF WESTERN ZONE OF TAMIL NADU By V. S. MYNAVATHI Degree Chairperson : : Doctor of Philosophy (Agriculture) in Agronomy Dr. C. JAYANTHI, Ph.D., Professor of Agronomy Department of Agronomy Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Coimbatore 641 003. 2011 On farm field experiments were conducted during September, 2009 to March, 2011 to optimize and stabilize the crop - livestock silvipastoral farming system in dry land areas of Western Zone of Tamil Nadu with the objectives to document the existing farming system, to develop the optimal farm plan for silvipastoral farming system, to assess the carrying capacity of grazing land, to evaluate the improved silvipastoral farming system and to study the nutria\nt management in the silvipastoral farming system. Survey was carried out during 2008-09 to characterize the prevailing farming systems of the dry western zone of Tamil Nadu. Information collected from primary and secondary sources indicated that, farming was the primary occupation of all farmers. Farm households had large number of family members with diverse employment. Only 26% of the potential labour was devoted to farming due to either full or part time offfarm employment. The average size of each land holding was small. About 44% of the farmers were small (2.5 to 5 ha), 30% of the farmers were big (more than 5 ha) and 26% of the farmers were marginal (less than 2.5 ha). Of these, 73% of the farmers owned pasture land and about 77% of the farmers were having sheep than other livestock like cattle, goat, buffalo and poultry.

The predominant annual crops grown by both small and large farmers were fodder sorghum, groundnut, pulses and horse gram. Fodder sorghum was grown during monsoon period and used as hay during off season for cattle. Red loamy soil predominates and it contains bunker gravel, which is rich in calcium and phosphorus. This is the best soil for rearing livestock. Irrespective of the category of farmers, all were having grazing land in their farm. Livestock rearing was the major enterprise in the study area and the farm households showed higher preference towards rearing sheep. The main farming system of the zone was silvipasture system locally called Korangadu. Korangadu has predominantly three major species of flora which were spatially in three tiers. The lower tier was grown with grass Cenchrus ; tree species include Acacia leucophloea locally called as Velvel and land was fenced with thorny shrub locally called as Mullu Kiluvai (Commiphora berryii) as live fence. Size of individual paddocks of Korangadu land ranges from 1.5 ha to 10 ha depending on the wealth status or ownership pattern of farmers. Korangadu grazing land provided livelihoods for landless livestock keepers by feeding their animals. Existing silvipastoral system could not able to provide nutritious and off season fodder to livestock and also the paddock was not rotated for grazing in regular basis, leads to soil fertility deterioration. Optimization of crop livestock silvipastoral farming system was carried out with 50 selected farm in Tiruppur district through linear programming. In the optimal farm plan, the area under silvipasture declined from 0.80 ha to 0.40 ha and 15 numbers of sheep were allotted for grazing in one ha of silvipasture land. Further, field experiments were conducted in three farmers field at Kangeyam and Dharapuram to assess the carrying capacity of silvipastoral systems for a period of two years from September, 2009 to March, 2011. Non-replicated experiment includes five silvipastoral systems viz., Acacia leucophloea + Cenchrus ciliaris, Acacia leucophloea + Cenchrus ciliaris + Stylosanthes hamata, Acacia leucophloea + Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata, Acacia leucophloea + Fodder sorghum + Pillipesara and Acacia leucophloea + Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata & fodder sorghum + Pillipesara. One unit of Mecheri sheep of five ewes (female) and one ram (male) and two buffaloes were maintained in each location.

The experimental results revealed that, among the different silvipastoral systems, rotational grazing of 39 numbers of sheep per ha of silvipasture land with Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata & fodder sorghum + Pillipesara system could be adopted. Evaluation of suitable silvipastoral farming system and nutrient management experiments were conducted in Location I only. Field investigation to identify the best combination of silvipastoral systems with sheep and buffalo was carried out for two years (2009-10 and 2010-11) in non-replicated trials under drylands. The productivity of the components, economic returns, employment generation, energy budgeting and resource recycling of the different silvipastoral systems were evaluated to identify the best silvipastoral farming system. Among the different silvipastoral systems evaluated, Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata & fodder sorghum + Pillipesara system with sheep (5+1) and buffalo (2 No.s) was promising, which generated the highest system productivity, employment generation, net return and benefit cost ratio. Nutrient management of the above mentioned silvipastoral systems with FYM + NPK, vermicompost and no manure (farmers practice) was done by carrying out the experiment in split plot design with three replications. Silvipastoral systems were allotted to the main plot and nutrient management practices to sub plots. Observations on green and dry fodder yields, initial and post harvest soil available nutrients, plant uptake after each harvest, crude protein content and yield, soil moisture at different intervals, soil microbial population and economics. Field experiments revealed that Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata & fodder sorghum + Pillipesara with the application of recommended dose of NPK along with FYM would be the best for obtaining increased yield, increased soil available nutrients and plant uptake, increased microbial population, crude protein content, net return and benefit cost ratio. To enhance and sustain the productivity, economic returns, constant and year round employment for family labour, enhanced soil fertility with nutrient recycling, integration of Cenchrus setigerus + Stylosanthes hamata & fodder sorghum + Pillipesara with sheep (5+1) and buffalo (2 No.s) could be the best silvipastoral farming system with the

application of recommended dose of NPK along with FYM for dry lands of Western zone of Tamil Nadu.